The Buzz

The U.S. Army's Black Hawk Helicopter Could Serve for 50 Years (or More)

The UH-60 airframe will continue to serve until the early 2030s, when it will be replaced by the Joint Multi-Role Medium helicopter, part of the U.S. Armed Forces’ Future Vertical Lift Program. The two primary candidates are the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant and the Bell V-280 Valor tilt-rotor. Whichever aircraft wins, the UH-60 is guaranteed to be replaced with a bold new design that reaches new heights in speed and performance. In the meantime, the Army is preparing to field the new UH-60V which upgrades older helicopters with an all-digital cockpit. The UH-60’s design, influenced by the battlefields of Vietnam, will almost certainly fly in one form or another for a half century—or more.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Image: Colombian Air Force Sikorsky UH-60L. Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons/Andrés Ramírez